Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module ANTH41930: Advanced Anthropological Perspectives on Science and Biotechnology

Department: Anthropology

ANTH41930: Advanced Anthropological Perspectives on Science and Biotechnology

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to L6K307


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an overview of significant changes in science and biotechnology in contemporary society
  • To understand the causes and consequences of these changes
  • To develop analytical skills which can be used to interpret and make sense of changing patterns of understandings of science and biotechnologies


  • The module will draw closely on the research interests of the tutor and will provide students with an opportunity to explore the contribution that anthropologists have made to understanding recent changes in kinship and family life
  • The making of the modern family
  • The unmaking of the modern family
  • The changing nature of familial obligation (seminar)
  • Friendship and kinship (seminar)
  • Changing Families I - Divorce and separation (seminar)
  • Changing Families II - Parenting and children (seminar)
  • Changing Families III - Adoption and fostering (seminar)
  • New reproductive technologies I - AI (seminar)
  • New reproductive technologies II - IVF (seminar)
  • New reproductive technologies III - surrogacy (seminar)
  • Kinship: temporality and commoditisation (seminar)
  • The changing significance of blood ties in contemporary kinship (seminar)
  • Genetics and kinship (seminar)
  • The future of kinship? (seminar)

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Acquaintance with the way that patterns of family life in the western world have changed
  • Familiarity with the anthropological and sociological research literature which documents and analyses these changes
  • Understanding of some of the consequences of these changes for social and cultural life in more general terms
  • Ability to apply the knowledge acquired on the course to specific instances of change in kinship and family life
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Evaluate critically the social issues arising from the changing place of kinship and family in contemporary society
  • Carry out an in-depth analysis of a particular issue or theme relating to contemporary family and kinship arrangements
  • Review literature relevant to a particular issue
Key Skills:
  • Communicate through written work
  • Show initiative

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Essay

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 22 weekly 1 hour 22
Seminars 6 fortnightly 1 hour 6
Tutorials 3 1 per term 1 hour 3
Preparation and reading 269
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two assignments of 1500 words each

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University